Spring is just around the corner. With our holistic management planned grazing completed for the next growing season, we are all ready for it. Why plan the grazing on a ranch that you have worked on for more than twenty years?
The answer is simple: to get the livestock to the right place, at the right time, with the right behavior for the right reason! A good manager should be able to keep their stock moving throughout the grazing season to achieve the desired outcomes on their landscape. However, as Allan Savory said, there is simply too much complexity in a ranching operation, and your life, to make these decisions on the fly. Thus, we need a grazing plan.
Some of the issues that you address when you plan your grazing are:
- Achieving your planned profit for the year
- Improving animal performance and the ranch’s carrying capacity
- Minimize the overgrazing of plants on your ranch
- Effectively use the tools of animal impact and grazing to stimulate your plants and soil
- Speed the biological decay of forage and improve the effectiveness of the mineral cycle
- Plan for a variety of activities and other enterprises on the same landscape
- Plan for personal schedules like vacations and days off
- Plan where your livestock will be around important business cycles like weaning, calving, cropping and harvest
- Reduce labor and improve efficiency
- Manage for conservation targets and wildlife
- Manage for the triple bottom line outcomes as outlined in your Holistic Context
How can we address all of these issues plus more on the fly, while we are trying to keep track of all of the other things that we are dealing with in our life? Chances are–and the state of our landscape suggest–we can’t.
The Jefferson Center, our accredited Savory Institute Hub, recently held a grazing workshop at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) property, Dye Creek Preserve, in Los Molinos, California. We were fortunate enough to be invited by TNC to offer a grazing workshop. It was the perfect venue for such an exercise. We had 13 ranchers join us for a three-day course where we got the opportunity to create our own open-season grazing plan for 2016. Being able to offer this at Dye Creek gave us the perfect chance to see what complexity goes into planning for the upcoming grazing season. Not only were we ensuring that livestock were on the best grass throughout the grazing season but also we discussed how they could be utilized as a tool to create habitat for conservation targets such as the Adobe Lily and the Yellow Legged Frog. It is important to remember that we rarely have just one objective in our land based business. We often times are simultaneously managing for wildlife, work-life balance, enhanced hydrologic flow, drought tolerance, etc.
Holistic Planned Grazing started on the battlefield
What Allan did when he adapted the Sandhurst Military Academy’s battlefield planning sheet to the Planned Grazing sheet that we are all accustomed to now, is brilliant. When planning grazing throughout the year using Allan Savory’s Holistic Management framework, we only focus on one thing at a time. Once we have addressed and satisfied all that is entailed in each step, we move on knowing that we have addressed all of the concerns that were asked. Then we may move on to the next step. This procedure has been used on farms, ranches, parks, national forest land, and landscapes of all sizes with many management contexts.
As Allan states, “When used with Holistic Management’s biological monitoring, land planning and financial planning, [planned grazing] has worked to achieve the desired outcome 100 percent of the time.” To see some examples of Holistic Planned Grazing improving ecosystem function all over world, view this slide show compiled by Sheldon Firth. If your are ready to truly change how your landscape functions, you need to start using Holistic Management as a decision making framework and using Planned Grazing and Biological Monitoring to help you manage for all of the complexity in your business. Contact us to discuss further or join us for a workshop.